17 dead in Colombia tax reform protests

​​​​​By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – At least 16 civilians and one police officer have died during protests against a government tax reform in Colombia since the start of unrest six days ago, the country's Ombudsman Carlos Camargo said Monday.

At least 254 civilians and 457 police officers have been injured during the protests and vandalism so far, and clashes between police and protesters were reported in several cities.

Although protests grew on a daily basis since they began on Wednesday, President Ivan Duque said he would revise the controversial bill, but that it could not be withdrawn in its entirety. Finally, Duque withdrew the proposed tax reform on Sunday.

Despite the announcement by Colombia's president, new protests are being called in Bogota and other major cities, including Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla and Cartagena.

The proposal was taken by many as a law that would impoverish the middle class that has suffered during the pandemic.

Monetary poverty in Colombia rose from 35.7% to 42.5% last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the director of the Administrative Department of National Statistics (DANE), Juan Daniel Oviedo.

“Colombia went from having 17.4 million people in monetary poverty to 21 million," he said last week.

However, the government insists that such reform is necessary to ensure the country’s fiscal stability, maintain its credit rating and fund social programs.

According to Blu Radio, Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla has handed in his resignation on Monday.